When you get involved in a car accident with someone who either has no insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your damages from the accident, your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage kicks in to allow you compensation for your damages. The District of Columbia auto accident law requires every registered vehicle to purchase Uninsured/underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage as part of their insurance coverage. D.C. Code § 31-2406.
The minimum UIM requirement is $25,000 per person or $50,000 per accident. If the insured requests so, the District of Columbia law obligates the insurer to offer a UIM policy for bodily injury or death up to the amount of $100,000 per person injured in the accident, and $300,000 for all persons injured in any 1 accident and a UIM policy for property damage up to $25,000. D.C. Code § 31-2406 (f)(4). In order to apply for your coverage under your UIM policy, you need to file a UIM claim against your own insurance company for the damages you sustained in an auto-accident. UIM payments to you for your property damages are subject to $200 deductible.
Who Can Recover
Anybody with valid insurance policy coverage can recover under UIM if he or she receives bodily injuries and/or property damages from an accident involving a motor vehicle and the motor vehicle causing the accident:
- does not provide adequate coverage for insured’s injuries and/or damages from the accident;
- is not insured by a motor vehicle liability policy applicable to the accident; or
- is covered by a motor vehicle liability policy of insurance but the insurer denies coverage for any reason or becomes the subject of insolvency proceedings in any jurisdiction; or
- Is a vehicle whose owner or operator cannot be identified.
D.C. Code § 31-2406
The UIM coverage is provided to the ‘insured’. The term ‘insured’ is defined as “a named insured or any other person insured in an insurance policy, with the exception of those persons specifically excluded by endorsement on the insurance policy.” D.C. Code § 31-2402 (10).
There has been an issue with the ‘household exclusion’ provisions, when an insurance policy would expressly deny coverage to the insured and his/her household members when an accident would be caused by one of them against the other. However, the DC courts have interpreted such exclusions to be against the District of Columbia’s Compulsory No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act. Household exclusion clause, which stated that there was no coverage for injury to insured or insured’s family members, and which was contained in automobile policy of husband who was killed while his wife was driving vehicle, was invalid to the extent it conflicted with the District of Columbia’s Compulsory No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act, which requires third-party personal liability coverage for the minimum amounts of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident; however, there was no bar to enforcement of household exclusion with respect to amounts greater than minimum statutory requirements. Smalls v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 678 A.2d 32, 37 (D.C. 1996).
Uninsured Motorist Fund
In addition to UIM, which covers the insured – those who were covered under valid insurance policies – District of Columbia also has the Uninsured Motorist Fund to compensate the victims of the accident if it is caused by an uninsured/underinsured motorist and if they do not have the insurance of their own to recover under UIM. In order to recover from the Uninsured Motorist Fund:
(1) The accident upon which the claim is based has to be reported to the Mayor of the District of Columbia not more than 45 days after the accident;
(2) The victim has to file a claim on a form supplied by the Mayor and submit all required information and documents within 180 days after the accident;
(3) The victim has suffered loss in an amount exceeding $100 as a result of the accident.
(4) The only identifiable insurer or insurers, who would otherwise be obligated to compensate the victim, are financially unable to fulfill their obligations.
(5) The victim IS NOT at fault, is NOT insured, OWNS a registered motor vehicle, or OPERATED a motor vehicle in the accident upon which the claim is based. D.C. Code § 31-2408.01.
Typical situation where the uninsured motorist fund can kick in is when a passenger in an uninsured car is injured as a result of the accident, and has no UIM insurance of his own. UIM cannot help in this situation and the uninsured motorist fund of the District of Columbia kicks in to provide compensation to the victim of the accident. Note that the law would not allow the driver of the motor vehicle to recover from the Uninsured Motorist Fund if he was operating the car without insurance and was injured in an accident caused by another uninsured/underinsured motorist.
The amounts of compensation awarded from the Uninsured Motorist Fund shall be equal to the amount of the victim’s loss, decreased by all amounts received by or available to the victim from collateral sources. D.C. Code § 31-2408.01 (e). The DC code also limits the amounts of payments from this fund to $100,000 in medical and rehabilitative expenses, $24,000 in wage loss, and $4,000 in funeral expenses. D.C. Code § 31-2408.01 (e).
DC law allows the insurance companies to including an anti-stacking provision in their insurance agreements. D.C. Code § 31-2406 (f)(7). Since the law specifically allows this, most, if not all, insurance companies operating in DC are expected to have that provision in their policies. It means, if you have several insurance policies, you will not be able to recover multiple times using each of the policies you own.
DC law allows insurance policies to contain subrogation provisions entitling insurers to the proceeds of any settlement or judgment against the party who caused the accident. D.C. Code § 31-2406 (c-1) and (f)(5).
Similarly, when you receive compensation from the Uninsured Motorist Fund, the District of Columbia is subrogated to your right against the negligent party to the extent of the compensation from that fund. D.C. Code § 31-2408.01(g)(2).
If you have been injured in a car accident, our attorneys can help you to guide through various options to claim your rightful compensation for your injuries. Our attorneys are committed to securing the money you deserve for your injuries. We can achieve maximum results if you contact us immediately after your accident. If you have suffered injury from a car accident, take the first step to protect your legal rights–call I. S. Law Firm today for a free consultation.
I.S. Law Firm will represent you on a contingency basis—that means you pay no legal fees until we recover money for you. For a free initial consultation and case evaluation, please contact us: +1-703-527-1779 or via e-mail:[email protected].